In 1793, Edward West, a craftsman and inventor, successfully demonstrated a model steamboat on Town Fork before a large crowd. The Town Fork was dammed up near the Lexington and Frankfort freight depot to allow for the demonstration. It was reported that the boat swiftly moved through the water.
In an April 29, 1816, editorial in the Kentucky Gazette, a steamboat based on a plan by Edward West, successfully travelled against the current of the Kentucky River. The article mentions that after this trial the steamboat will travel down the Mississippi to New Orleans. The editor who wrote that article claims that because of West’s invention, “a hundred years from now, the little stream called the ‘Town Fork of Elkhorn’ will have become classic.
West received a patent in July 1802 for his steamboat invention. Robert Fulton’s better-known work with a larger model was done in 1803. West’s model for the steamboat was destroyed when the British burned Washington D.C. in 1814. Another model of the steamboat was kept in the museum at the lunatic asylum.
Kleber, John E. (ed.). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. 1992.
Ranck, George, W. History of Lexington, Kentucky. 1872